Puericulture fiasco...Long time lessees may also lose businesses PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 September 2017 15:38

By BOB JALDON

The Puericulture Center-Jollibee controversy is getting more complicated.

At least thirty-two concessionaires that were doing business at the demolished Puericulture food court are in peril of losing their livelihood as the legality of their lease contracts with the city government may also be questioned by the same persons who lodged a complaint against the contract of lease between the Zamboanga Puericulture Center and Freemont Foods Corporation (Jollibee).

A check yesterday with the city permit and licensing office showed that there are “carenderia” operators in the old food court. The stalls were demolished to give way to the construction of Jollibee’s latest outlet on La Purisima Street. Freemont allocated P7.5 million for the construction of the “Centro Puericultura de Zamboanga” building adjacent to Jollibee.

An occupancy permit for the use of the building has not yet been issued by the city engineer’s office. City Engineer Luis Despalo is one of the respondents in a complaint filed with the Ombudsman by lawyer Abelardo Climaco, Jr.

In an exclusive interview, City Assessor Erwin Bernardo, also a respondent in the Ombudsman complaint for being a member of the Puericulture Center Board, said the new building for the concessionaires is within the 750-square meter property of the center that is covered by a presidential proclamation signed by President Ramon Magsaysay on Feb. 26, 1955.

“As far as we are concerned (referring to the Board), we acted in good faith in the fulfillment of the mandate of the Puericulture Center which is to raise funds to maintain its daily operations,” Bernardo said. By that, he meant the maintenance of the center’s maternity lying-in clinic and its elementary school.

The lease contract between Puericulture Center and Freemont has been declared null and void by Mayor Maria Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar because the property is “outside the commerce of men.” If Jollibee’s operation is illegal, so will the operation of the eateries at the Puericultura de Zamboanga be, Atty. Climaco said.

City Permit and Licensing Officer Benjie Barredo confirmed that there are 32 concessionaires that are paying taxes to the city as of 2017. Some have temporary permits to operate (TPO), while some do not, he added.

The question is: Will Barredo, acting on behalf of the mayor, issue business permits to the concessionaires considering the unresolved legality of Jollibee’s stay at the premises of the Puericulture Center?

This now becomes a humanitarian issue, said a political observer who asked not to be identified, because employment will be lost, in the case of Jollibee, and livelihood denied to the concessionaires and their hired helpers who have been gainfully earning for the last 20 years. (Bob Jaldon)